Even people who love to cook need a break sometimes. In a country where the “fast-food” includes things like fried eggplant, fresh tomato and cucumber salad, delicious little finger foods like falafel, kubbe, and freshly baked burekas stuffed with spinach, cheese, mushrooms or potatoes, grabbing sustenance in the go can turn out to be a rather satisfying experience. The same goes, believe it it or not, for the frozen section of the supermarkets here in Israel. While I suppose some of the more American-style supermarkets may stock things like frozen pizza and TV dinners. What you will find in most frozen sections here, are mass-produced versions of real home-style cooking. Things like kubbe soup, jachnun and malawah, in addition to the iconic corn and vegetable patties that are presented as the vegetarian option in Israeli kibbutz, boarding school and army dinning halls, and are actually pretty darn tasty.
While I know that some of my Israeli friends may chuckle at the notion of my posting about something that is so easily obtained and prepared, (I promise, one day I will attempt malawah from scratch, folks) for Americans I think this food and the way it is served is of interest, and I hope not to be judged for my temporary “laziness”.
This tasty yemeni treat, which is the quick-cooking version of jachnun, is sold in thin round packages, the servings neatly stacked and divided by pieces of plastic or wax paper. Unlike jachnun, which must cook in the oven for many hours (usually overnight), malawah can be made right on the stove top in a matter of minutes. Although the homemade versions are undoubtedly thicker and more layered, the frozen ones are still pretty darn good in a pinch (and are also loved by 3 year olds everywhere — making malawah and hard-boiled egg, an easy lunch option for mothers across the middle east).
First you heat a couple teaspoons of oil in a 9-10 inch non-stick, or cast iron fry pan- you really need very little oil as malawah has its own grease.
Then you fry for a few minutes on each side over medium heat until both sides have this lovely crispy, mottled appearance.
And serve with your choice of sides. Typically, freshly grated tomatoes and some spicy shug (yemeni hot pepper sauce). I like mine with soft goat cheese, minced parsley and fresh tomatoes.